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Thistle

Gibson ES-125tc back repair

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Ok so I've had this '66 es125 in my collection for a long time now, it was a hand me down from my father and the damage to the back was there when he bought it in the eighties. It's a rough old dog but plays beautifully and is something I would never sell. I've thought about taking the back off and attempting a repair but looking inside it apears the inner laminate of the back has separated lots.

Looking at the pics do you guys think I would be better making a new back from solid maple or trying to repair the old Kalamazoo ply wood? Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated also.

Brian.

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Better pic. Just found out an iPhone fits in an f hole lol, and it's worse than I thought. To me that looks like expanding foam or something that's been used to fill out the holes.

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That looks like toast to me. I'd be tempted to carve a new back out of mahogany. Maple does not enjoy a good reputation as an acoustic body wood. Granted this is mostly not acoustic, so it may not make a lick of difference. :blink:

SR

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That really looks a lot worse from the inside compared to the outside. My guess is that someone tried to fix this using polyurethane glue. Poly glue expands pretty much like the expanding insulation foam used in buildings.

My concern is that you write that the guitar plays beautiful. If you go in and replace the back it's not going to be that same guitar any more. If you take the back of, carefully remove all the broken wood, the glue residue and repair all the pieces as careful as possible and re-glue the back, it's not going to be the same guitar. I would probably just leave it as is.

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I have some Brazilian mahogany in my store that would probably give it a better acoustic sound but after much thought im going to attempt a repair after my current build. If you've ever heard one of these you will know acoustically they don't sound great but plugged in its a different story but I want to keep it as original as possible.. I'm hoping the removal and refitting won't affect it too much. I've been doing a lot of research and ive now seen way worse that's been repaired very well. Will take my time and do it with love and attention and we will see what happens lol.

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If you are attempting this it would be great to see some progress pics. And good luck!

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I'd be tempted to consider stabilising the damage to prevent further problems. The problem is, that stabilisation is exactly what would make future repair ten times worse, if not impossible to make better than it currently is. That seems to be what has already occurred, so if the instrument is stable and in no danger of further issue then play her and keep the sweet sound she has before it is lost through mistaken repair.

Peter - do you think that a little epoxy injection would be too radical or leave as-is?

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I think that the old poly glue need to be removed completely before one can get all the broken part back again. To do that you either need very long, thin fingers or you need to take the back off. I would have left it as-is. But for a repair I would have aimed for a new back made of solid maple, using the old back as a template for all the curves of the back. Or maybe take the3 back off to try to repair it first. Dan Erlewine repaired a guitar were he popped of the back. Maybe some ideas kan be found here:

http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Trade_Secrets/A_knife_in_the_back_Popping_the_back_off_a_1929_Gibson_L-5_.html

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